Regulation of SMN protein stability

Barrington G. Burnett, Eric Muñoz, Animesh Tandon, Deborah Y. Kwon, Charlotte J. Sumner, Kenneth H. Fischbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by mutations of the survival of motor neuron (SMN1) gene and deficiency of full-length SMN protein (FL-SMN). All SMA patients retain one or more copies of the SMN2 gene, but the principal protein product of SMN2 lacks exon 7 (SMNΔ7) and is unable to compensate for a deficiency of FL-SMN. SMN is known to oligomerize and form a multimeric protein complex; however, the mechanisms regulating stability and degradation of FL-SMN and SMNΔ7 proteins have been largely unexplored. Using pulsechase analysis, we characterized SMN protein turnover and confirmed that SMN was ubiquitinated and degraded by the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). The SMNΔ7 protein had a twofold shorter half-life than FL-SMN in cells despite similar intrinsic rates of turnover by the UPS in a cell-free assay. Mutations that inhibited SMN oligomerization and complex formation reduced the FL-SMN half-life. Furthermore, recruitment of SMN into large macromolecular complexes as well as increased association with several Gemin proteins was regulated in part by protein kinase A. Together, our data indicate that SMN protein stability is modulated by complex formation. Promotion of the SMN complex formation may be an important novel therapeutic strategy for SMA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1115
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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